Dr. S. Dru Forrester of the College of Veterinary Medicine has been
chosen as the 2003 recipient of the National Carl Norden/Pfizer
Distinguished Teacher Award. This selection, made by a committee of her
peers, designates her as the outstanding veterinary medical educator of
the year in the United States.
Forrester, who had been honored as teacher of the year several times
while at Virginia Tech’s Virginia-Maryland Regional College of
Veterinary Medicine, said she was surprised, shocked and thrilled all at
once to receive the national honor.
“”It’s very exciting,”” said Forrester, who joined the college in April
2003 as a professor of small animal medicine. “”When you look at the fact
you’re up against professors from all the veterinary colleges in the
country and that some of my favorite teachers have won in the past, it’s
nice to be in that group of people.””
Dr. Forrester will receive her prize at the Association of American
Veterinary Medical Colleges’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in
A committee based its selection of Dr. Forrester on her teaching
philosophy, example of classes she teaches and endorsements from students
Dr. Forrester says she tries to put herself in the students’ position
when thinking about teaching, drawing on her own experience as a student.
She strives to pass on information and skills she knows her students will
need once they are practicing — without putting them to sleep.
“”I like to present students with a minimum of extraneous information and
instead focus on showing them how to apply the information they have
already learned or are continuing to learn,”” she says. “”I believe that
students are more likely to learn from using the information they have
learned rather than trying to remember facts for examinations.””
Many of Dr. Forrester’s students said they appreciate her teaching style
as well as her approachability and sense of humor and are not at all
surprised she earned such a prestigious honor.
“”Dr. Forrester has a tremendous ability to provide enough guidance to
students to direct their learning but does not provide ‘the answer’ per
se and this keeps the students motivated to explore and discover the
ideas on their own,”” said Megan Templeton, DVM ’07.
Avery Woodworth said she has had the opportunity to work with Dr.
Forrester in a small group setting and is looking forward to working with
her in the future.
“”She has a remarkable ability to engage students in a discussion in which
they are both enlightened by her immense knowledge and feel confident
about sharing their own knowledge. Never does she give the student a
sense of inadequacy or incompetence,”” Woodworth said. “”Her sense of humor
livens up conversation and helps portray the sense of enjoyment and ease
she feels in teaching.””